Tuesday, November 30, 2010

give me give you

The other day I came home and told Justin that a new mom we knew got an iPad for a push present.

"A what?" he said.

"A push present. You know, because she gave birth."

You know, because after spending almost ten months of her life growing another human being (which might entail not sleeping despite insane exhaustion, throwing up at the whiff of a french fry, and watching stretch marks map her belly) - after all of that, she then has to push that human being into this world.

And some celebrity dads thought that deserved a bonus, and then regular dads picked up on the idea.

"So where is my push present?" I said.

Justin stared at me. Finally, he said, "You got a baby."

Indeed. Two.

We are a couple who fails at gifts. I bought Justin a French press to celebrate a Friday morning, and that was at least a year ago. I cannot remember what I bought him for Christmas (if anything) last year, and I usually mark his birthday with a sweet letter but no surprise. The last gift gift - like, it was purchased to celebrate an occasion and was actually purchased before the arrival date of that occasion - the last gift I remember Justin giving me was a hand held Kitchen Aid mixer that I picked out for Christmas and begged to open early because I had dozens of cookies to bake. That was six years ago.

But I want gifts. We decided to "do birthday gifts" and I assumed that because we decided this before my birthday, I'd get a gift. Surprise me! Instead, I spent my birthday half-waiting but fully knowing that there was no surprise. Still, at the end of the day, I asked. Justin apologized. I pretended it was okay.

The next day he brought home a few groceries and handed me a plastic bag. "This is for you," he said. Inside were a bag of parmesan Goldfish crackers, a box of golden raisens, and a small tube of M&M Minis.

"Happy birthday?" I said.


Which means I'd better think of a good gift for his birthday or we'll continue this sad, sorry cycle of lousy post-birthday gifts.

We aren't alone. I know other couples who skip out on gifts. And we aren't lacking for things we just want. Last year in India I bought some beautiful silver bangles and a pair of green amber earrings. Anytime Justin goes through an airport, he stocks up on books. We buy things for ourselves, but don't often buy things for each other. A friend of mine mentioned the effort it takes to get a gift: just a little bit of sneaking around to get the gift, the secrecy of hiding it. It is easier to just slap a gift card or cash into an envelope, or to say "Honey, why don't you pick something up for yourself in Jordan?"

But I want the fun of that effort. Christmas is coming.


Clare said...

yeah, we buy our own gifts too...

Anonymous said...

you get that from us... sorry.

Angela and David said...

This is funny. David SUCKS at gifts. He's totally missing the gene. I don't even what anything nice, just something that shows he is thinking of me but he's hopeless. It's actually easier to not get gifts because then I don't get my hopes up.

The Salty One said...

We're right there with you! It's hard. I think it's a limited resources thing for us. We have so little time and so little discretionary income now that I'm not working and we have a ravenous 2 year old to feed. For Mrp's just passed bday peanut and I made him a cake and I bought him a couple of books I thought he'd like, but it does feel weird buying presents for him with his money (even though it's our money, I think you know what I mean). But, I think it was an important first step. Have I bought him anything for Christmas? No! I'll have to get on that :)

Joanna Goodman said...

For Christmas this year Ron rushed out to pick up a couple things the day or two before. That's how his family used to do it. Probably still does. But hey, I am really enjoying Catch Phrase! Anyway, we also do stockings (which his family never did), and I have learned not to hint at things. I told him, Ron: I want a little gift from you, a little gift from James (because I wanted a "to Mommy" gift!) and something for my stocking. Christmas morning we passed out the stockings and I pouted because mine was flat. "Oops!! Here! put this in there!!" as he handed me the littlest gift :) It was sweet, though.

Though this comment is getting quite long, I must point out that Ron is getting better in general. When we were dating (the point in life that men are supposed to be good at gifts) he forgot my birthday! But just a few weeks before my birthday (and not ever FOR my birthday!) he babysat James and gave me an address with directions to a surprise spa trip! He had even picked out the package himself! That was a nice sea salt scrub and massage :) What a swell guy!